You want to wear the right combination of confidence and comfort.
Maui luaus are special events for people of all ages and cultures, which means that you want to dress comfortably and appropriately for the occasion. There is no one right way to dress at luaus; rather, it's about wearing clothes that represent the Hawaiian culture while also being appropriate for the event (leave the malo and pa’u to the dancers). There aren’t a lot of clothing choices when it comes to these parties, so just make sure you’re comfortable enough to have a good time in and that your outfit will look great against a sunset.
Hawaiian attire is always the way to go, which usually includes muumuu dresses, skirts, leis (which you’ll get as you enter most Maui luaus), aloha shirts, shorts, and slippahs (or flip-flops). Any of these choices represents the islands well! Some men like to wear souvenir shirts from Maui if there aren't a lot of aloha shirts available. The only thing we recommend avoiding would be beach clothes (swimsuits are meant for the daytime).
What would people wear to a luau back in the day?
Traditional luau parties in ancient Hawaii were attended only by men, as men and women did not eat together. At these traditional feasts, the attire was a malo (loin cloth) made from kapa adorned with other items from nature to represent their rich culture.
With the introduction of clothing, as we know today, in 1776 when Captain Cook arrived at these islands, modern styles of clothing were introduced and worn to luaus.
At Old Lāhainā Lūʻau, traditional Hawaiian luau outfits are worn by our staff and hula dancers to provide authenticity to Hawaiian traditions. These stunning outfits represent what ancient Hawaiians wore throughout history.
Get buttoned up in a nice new aloha shirt or flaunt a local tee.
Guys tend to dress up a little more than the ladies at a luau, which feels like the opposite of the usual. At Maui luaus, a guy’s clothing can be anything from khakis and a polo to Bermuda shorts and an Aloha, or Hawaiian shirt. Everyone knows that Hawaii is HOT and pants are not a requirement for this event, though some Maui luaus have a more formal vibe.
Even long board shorts and a Maui t-shirt are acceptable to wear for an informal and fun evening by the ocean. Don’t forget to wear your “slippahs,” too! Olukai and other brands offer some comfy leather options with great arch support. A lot of people on-island call these their “going-out slippahs” and don’t wear them to the beach.
If you want to accessorize, puka shell or Maui hook necklaces are popular jewelry choices for men. You can find beautiful pieces carved from cow bone or whalebone on Front Street in Lahaina.
Shopping Options: Just wander through any clothing store and you’re bound to find an aloha shirt you like. For a bargain hunt, check out the used shirts at a local thrift shop or the Maui Swap Meet that happens every Saturday morning.
Rock a dress, shorts or skirt and shirt or whatever makes you feel good.
The traditional luau outfit for ladies includes a dress with beautiful Hawaiian patterns – from flowers to palm trees, or more simple designs. For ladies, strapless dresses or shirts with skirts are appropriate attire for a regular luau. For a more formal luau, a more fitted dress with sleeves and more traditional patterns is an ideal choice.
You’ll be adorned with a beautiful, fresh flower lei when you get here, but know that it’s also common to wear a flower behind your ear. If you wear the flower on the right side, it means you’re looking and if you wear it on the left, it means you’re taken. It’s a great way to show you’re single and ready to mingle without shouting it to the world!
When it comes to shoes – use comfort as your tool to make your choice! Stilettos are a no-no since most Hawaiian luau parties take place on grass, sand, or dirt. Wear your flip-flops (“slippahs”) or some cute flat sandal or wedges. You’ll be especially grateful you wore sturdy shoes after a couple of fruity drinks.
Cute matchy-matchy or comfy-comfy?
The number one rule for kids is to make sure they are comfortable. You don’t want to be fussing all night with your child’s clothes that are “too ugly/tight/stiff/etc.” Too loose is an issue, too, because they could get caught by a stray palm tree or bush. Be sure to have your kids try their outfits on ahead of time to ensure there won’t be any complaints.
One of the sweetest options we see is a whole family wearing matching aloha print outfits. Dad in a shirt, mom in a dress, and the kids beaming right beside in the same print. And, bonus, you can use your Hawaiian luau photo as your holiday card!
At Maui luaus, little boys usually wear t-shirts or aloha printed shirts, shorts, and sandals to complement their outfits. You can find any of these kid’s clothing at any store on the island that sells clothes, like Walmart, Target, and Ross.
Nobody likes to feel over—or underdressed for a party.
Not sure how formal your Hawaiian luau is? Check out photos of previous guests on the luau Yelp page, website, or social media. You can usually find photos of people having a great time and usually wearing bright, cheerful prints. There are some more formal events, however, so if you’re not sure, you can always call them up and ask how formal the luau is.
The more low-key Maui luaus tend to be ok with bikini tops and board shorts. Strapless or sleeveless dresses are always welcome, and slippahs are a requirement (well, not really, but they’re very common)! Even the most formal luaus won’t be stiletto-friendly!
A slightly more dressed-up version of a luau outfit for ladies would be a dress with sleeves, a skirt and top combo, or for a postcard-worthy picture, you can wear matching outfits for the whole family. There’s no such thing as a “formal” Hawaiian luau since it’s really just one big party. Try not to stress about the way you dress and just have fun!
We hope you found this guide helpful in planning your perfect outfit for a night of eating Hawaiian food, listening to soothing music, and watching the history of the islands take place on stage. At Old Lāhainā Lūʻau, our luaus are usually held daily during sunset hours, making for a stunning show and breathtaking photo opportunities for the whole family in their Hawaiian luau outfits. We are excited to host you and your family for a night you won’t soon forget. Old Lāhainā Lūʻau prides itself on Maui-style entertainment and onolicious (delicious) cuisine while keeping a strong focus on Hawaiian culture.